It’s a question that freelancers have asked themselves since the internet became a medium to generate income. You see the question pop up from time-to-time online, but the answers are always ambiguous and unhelpful.
That’s probably to be expected. After all, every freelancer has a different set of skills and level of proficiency. Whether you’re a web designer or programmer, or both, some of us are better than others. While experience is relative, ability is not. Ability is a key component in the formula of establishing the perfect fee structure for you.
Another factor is the rate of delivery. If you can push out quality work at a faster pace than the average freelancer, you should charge for it. Clients will always want their projects “done yesterday”. If you’re able to meet their needs, which otherwise would stretch another freelancer thin, you’re justified in asking for more.
The greatest factor is simply your current reserve of work. If you have ten projects lined up, complete with signed contracts and starting dates, you can afford to raise your prices. You’re a hot commodity. This is the basic law of supply and demand — it’s the very thing that dictates the price of everything you buy, from movie tickets to gasoline. Why should your services be any different? Be sure to only raise your prices in small $10/hour increments as you test the waters, or you’ll never pinpoint the rate that works perfectly for you. If you raise them too much, trust me, you will know. If the frequency of new work starts to greatly slow, adjust accordingly.
Finally, some basic rules to remember. The less you charge, the cheaper your clients will be. If you find a potential client negotiating your prices lower before you even discuss the project, you must let them go — that’s not who you want to work with. Another thing worth remembering is that most corporate clients will translate your hourly rate into some measure of skill. The companies with money want to spend more of said money on your services, because when business goes macro, money often does produce more favorable outcomes. Basically, they think that the more they pay, the better work they’ll get. Target these clients. Give them those high prices they want (part of any business is customer service, right?). Try to feel comfort knowing that while you sit worrying about your rate being too high — about scaring clients away — that, to some, your prices may actually be too low. There’s always a flip side.
Of course, there are a myriad of other factors that you should consider when settling on your hourly rate. Just don’t complicate it — that’s what made you read this article in the first place. No one can tell you what to charge, and nor should they. You know the type of work you can produce, and you should be able to think critically enough to decide what it is worth.